About bendtnersbettercousin

Gooner born in 1982 from Harlow, Essex, with a love for Arsenal that knows. I'm not an AKb, nor am I an 'In Arsene we Rust', but I like to think that I can tip-toe between the two, occasionally veering into both camps.

Jacks injury leaves all eyes on Aaron

Howdy there partner. It’s Friday, we’re still all happy after the Dortmund victory (aren’t we?), plus we’ve got a game tomorrow to look forward too in the shape of West Bromwich Albion at lunchtime on a Saturday. Arsène will deliver his update to us on injuries and even the horrid news about Wilshere being out for three months and Arteta being out after his calf problem from Wednesday night can’t put me too down at the moment. Well, maybe a little, but after being a bit of a ‘Neg’ recently, I’m inclined to bask in a little bit of success after our Champions League qualification was secured.

I’m also feeling happy for a particular Welshman who, to this gooners eyes, looked to be approaching a semblance of his old self on the Emirates turf against the yellowness of Dortmund. He was tidy in possession, there was a distinct lack of tricks and flicks, but he still busted a gut to get across the pitch. On Tuesday at the pre-match conference he said he felt like he was getting back up to full speed and hopefully this is more like what he meant, although I wouldn’t say wayward passing and random Cruyff turns has anything to do with fitness, personally. But hey, what do I know, right?

If it is true, that he does feel like his ‘old-new’ self from last season, then that bodes well for the coming months. With Jack confirmed as a long term absentee, you have to look at someone like Aaron filling the void, and filling well during this winter period. There have been lots of questions that have been raised as to whether the two can play together, but Arsène has had that particular opportunity to prove the doubters wrong by the ridiculous challenge by McNair last weekend. I personally think that given enough minutes together on both training pitch and actual game time, any top level professional athletes can learn to feed off one another’s strengths. People might argue that Lampard and Gerrard prove that this isn’t the case, but I don’t believe that they actually had any real opportunity to develop that ‘on the field’ bond for England, hence why it never happened.

Anyway, I’m digressing, because my line of thinking today is about Aaron Ramsey and how important he will be to this team over the coming months and for the duration of the season. He is the player that sits between the deep lying midfielder and the number ten and is the one that has to both defend and attack. The most natural of all of our box-to-boxer’s, I think we’ll see a good festive period for our Welsh Jesus. The more I’ve watched him over the years, the more it occurs to me that his game seems to be more intrinsically linked to his confidence levels, than almost any other Arsenal player. They all get affected by dips in form, but it appears as though Rambo suffers more, probably because of his work ethic and desire to work harder to correct any imperfections in his game. He’s a trier, there’s nobody that can dispute that, but when he tries too much he suffers all the more. It’s why Arsène has publicly said he needs to just focus on doing the basics well and the rest will come.

Perhaps it’s a bit of a catch 22 situation with him when you look at our form as a team too. I think he needs a run of three or four good, solid, ‘back to basics’ games before it will all click back into gear for him. But so does the team. Arsenal have shown over recent past that they are quite capable of putting together winning runs, which you think we really need to start doing, like now. But our performances are contingent on our best players playing well. If Ramsey is playing well, then the team will more often play well and increase their probability of victory. But in order for Ramsey to get back to his best, he probably needs the rest of the team to step up and carry us to a few victories. So both are as reliant on each other to move into what I suppose Andre Vilas Boas would call a ‘positive spiral’.

With tricky Micky Arteta out for an extended period of time, it’s probably more important that Aaron gets his defensive work right first though, because with Flamini as the holding midfielder, you do fear for our propensity for being opened up against most Premier League sides. A deeper lying Ramsey to sit alongside Flamini more often, will help to break up the play more than one bombing forward and being caught in possession. That Rambo (the defensive-minded one) needs to be trotting out onto the Hawthorns pitch tomorrow.

There’s a few other titbits of information that is knocking around this morning, but until Le Boss gives us an injury update in preparation for tomorrow’s game, I don’t really think it’s worth talking about how players are ‘back on track’. If we get to the New Year and we’ve won all of our games, let’s call it that, but until then I remain to be convinced.

Convince me lads, convince me.

Pride restored, defensive brains too, at least for last night

Well that was a bit more like it, wasn’t it now?

A 2-0 home win, safe passage into the knockout stages confirmed through an assertive performance, plus a bit of confidence restored in the players with whom we all looked at and wondered if they had the collective metal to get us out of this quagmire of poor form that we seemed to have waded in to.

I have to say that that I was less than confident before the game, as I ambled my way into the pub to meet a few fellow Gooners to chew the fat with. As I said yesterday, the home defeat to United hit me harder than I thought, so much so that I didn’t really come into the game expecting the team to give any kind of response o the debacle that was last weekend’s result.

I should have a wee bit more faith. Perhaps.

That game last night was exactly what we all needed to restore a bit of faith in the ability of the team to fulfil its potential. Don’t get me wrong; this was a Dortmund side shy of a few players, not needing anything (having qualified from the group already) from the game and languishing in 16th in the Bundesliga, but you could tell from the way they played that they were still up for taking a British scalp. But not yesterday. Yesterday they came up against an Arsenal side which was wounded from a harsh defeat at the weekend.

It didn’t take us long to assert or dominance and perhaps, having been scoffed at during the pre-match brewskis due to his inclusion in the starting 11, it was only fitting that Yaya Sanogo scored his first proper Arsenal goal within a minute or two of kick off. The ball from Santi was composed and the slide under that Weider-fella chap was as composed as any of us could hope for. Isn’t it nice that the monkey in the room that is Sanogo’s whole ‘no goals’ tag has been consigned to the farcical history from whence it came? If you’re an Arsenal fan then there’s no way you want to see any player toil, so to see him notch his first goal was pleasing for all of us to witness.

The rest of the game ticked along as if it was all part of the Arsenal show. Emilio Martinez was called into action with a good save from that bloke who sounds like he’s from the He-Man movie with Dolf Lungren – Mikataryian of Eternia or something – but that aside, we looked to be in control for most of that first half.

The second half was more of the same, accompanied by the now obligatory Alexis goal having been picked out from a good ball by Santi I believe (I’m starting this blog on the way home from the game so forgive me for the sketchy details) and finished with aplomb. The guy is an absolute beast and one only hopes that our form can pick up in the league; if only to prove justice to his overall play. Like in Football Manager, I am simply running out of superlatives. He scores, he dribbles, he chases, he hassles and harries. He is a joy to behold and is the stand out player this year by a country mile. Lord knows what we’d do if he picks up a knock, but at least he looks robust enough to take a tackle, hold on a second whilst I touch some wood.

There were still frustrations from yesterday though. But these frustrations seemed to be born from our own vexation with the players getting things right rather than wrong. For instance: full backs. Pre-game my compatriots and I had a lengthy conflab as to why we essentially play with four wingers. We recounted the halcyon days of the 90s well drilled defence and how they knew the score when it came to covering one another. The old ‘puppet’ description was given by one, who said that it really isn’t rocket science: one sits, whilst the other one pushes forward. It mitigates risk and ensures you have bodies back for when you are caught on the counter like we were for the second goal at the weekend. So why on earth can’t we do that every week? Who knows. More to the point, if lessons have been learned and we see that moving forward, who cares? If we see the same resolute defending away at West Brom at the weekend, I’ll be happy, as will your good self too I’d imagine.

Midfield also had a positive balance I thought. The Ox marked the occasion of his 100th Arsenal appearance with a very fine display and really was deserving of a goal with that lobbed volley on to the bar in the second half. There was a bit of a debate on Twitter that I was involved in that went on yesterday about where he should be playing and whether that is centrally or wide. I’m not sure we got to any kind of resolution, but one things for sure: The Ox is showing more frequent signs of good performances and with some of the injuries we’ve had this season you can see already how important he’s been for us. With the last thing we need being Walcott rushed back into action too early, it is a bit of a blessing that we have somebody like Alex who can give the manager enough leeway to make Theo’s return a gradual one.

Ramsey too, I thought, was better. He is still not the swashbuckling player that upped his game a few notches last season, but he did everything asked of him yesterday night, the simple things. He was always showing for the ball, his distribution was better and his all round game was sans flicks thankfully. He needs to put together a run of four or five games like that, then the confidence will come and we’ll see the player we’re all craving for.

The one sour note of the evening has come once again with the injury to Arteta, who Arsène admitted afterwards that it ‘doesn’t look good’ for the Spaniard. He has been a vital player for us when fit, but therein lies the issue and, if we’re all honest with each other, it’s only going to get worse as he gets older. We need to start thinking about an effective replacement, of which I don’t think many see Flamini as that, so Arsène needs to have his plans in place soon if we’re going to get something out of this season.

So that’s that as far as the Champions League is concerned. Sure, there’s another game, but I really don’t expect to see Anderlecht pick up anything away to Dortmund in a couple of weeks time, so I hope Arsène throws the game in Turkey and focuses all of his attention on our league form. We simply have to start putting together a run of victories. No more draws. No more defeats. The league is well and truly beyond us now, but all of the teams fighting for Champions League spots aren’t, so Arsène needs to get his eyes on the prize of third and go for it.

Happy Thursday unto thee I say.

Dortmund: a chance for redemption of sorts

Hello there. I’m back after a short sabbatical from both Arsenal and football. No Twitter, few blogs and certainly no TV related to Arsenal since Saturday’s debacle. I literally went into media lockdown until the next game which, thankfully (or not depending on the way we’re playing at the moment), is this evening as we entertain Borussia Dortmund at home.

I’ve got to be honest with you kids; the United game hit me hard. Hit me harder than I thought it would actually. The predictability. The inevitability. The feeling of painful DeJa Vu. All the errors, all the worst of this modern day Arsenal side (which I class as the post Invincible’s period), it was all there to see. I could probably go on and on about our failings, but the most redeeming thing about football when you play the number of games we play this season, is that you are never far away from righting the wrongs. From atoning from the sins. So between now and Christmas Arsenal have an opportunity to atone their pants off. Starting by beating Dortmund tonight.

And it has to be a win tonight. Because I haven’t been reading many football sites, I’m not sure if a point is enough to progress, but even if it is, I don’t care. I want this Arsenal team to sweep aside the ills of its current season plight and begin afresh with a big scalp. If that starts in the Champions League, then so be it, because we need something and soon.

Arsène Wenger is a well paid man and this is what he is well paid for. Results. He has been negligent this season in his acquisition of enough results in all competitions, but he has the chance to bring people like myself back into ‘Happy Street’ by going on a run. Come on Arsène, it’s what you have done before, so is there life in the old dog?

As for the team news, well, we’re a bit like The Rocket pub on Holloway Road with about an hour to go before kick off on a Saturday lunchtime. One-in, one-out. The return of Koscienly is great to hear – especially as he comes into the squad – but his return is tempered by the fact that we have to rely on 19-year-old Martinez in the sticks against Dortmund again, as Szczesny is out. Hopefully it is just a short-term injury that will see him return at the weekend.

Actually, we’re nothing like the Rocket, because we’re more like ‘one-in, three-out’, with Wilshere and Walcott all sitting on the sidelines again. Who knows, maybe we’ll get to see Theo for more than ten minutes before the end of the season, eh? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Still, at least we’ve got Welbeck to offer the pace up front, which…what? He’s a doubt too you say? Well isn’t that just a delight? Still, at least we’ve got Sanogo to not score any goals up front tonight, because we can’t rely on Giroud due to his ineligibility. Seriously, only Arsenal could be gripped in the midst of an injury crisis, and a player who could slot in back to the team can’t make it because he isn’t registered. I don’t blame the club at all in this instance; how on earth were they to know he’d heal extra quick from a broken leg? I’m more exacerbated by the fact that we finally – after what seems like a decade of ‘three-weeks away’ players suffering ‘little bit setback’s, we get one returning from injury early and he can’t even play!?!?

Do you think Arsène Wenger smashed a black cat crossing his path, with a mirror whilst walking across three drains, after the 2005 cup final? Because it feels like it after the perpetual bad luck we constantly seem to face.

Dortmund have their own problems too mind, with Reus out until January and league form which belies their actual quality, shown by the fact they’ve absolutely walked this Champions League group. Klopp is still adored by the yellow army, who are sure to be in fine voice this evening, so I do wonder what the Dortmund mentality will be tonight. They are almost tailor-made to sucker-punch us this evening. A counter-attacking side, who don’t have to come out, because they’ve already qualified? Against a side who were toothless at the weekend and done over by two counter-attacking goals from three chances in a whole match at the weekend just gone? It’s a horror story whose predictability will strike fear into every Gooner watching from anywhere in the world tonight.

I fear how low this Arsenal team can go if we lose tonight. I fear that our season could be one for which even the perennial fight for fourth is over before Christmas. We’re not winning games, we have a seemingly endless list of injuries and, I’m sorry, but we have a manager that has dented my confidence in him so much I’m not sure if he can recover.

I hope he does. I want to say I was wrong in May as we lift a trophy and have turned around our season to finish third. But right now, I just don’t believe it’s possible, so I’m not hopeful for tonight.

Like I said at the beginning of the blog, United hit me harder than I thought. Football can always have a quick turn around and I could be loving Arsène again within months, but I don’t see it right now. Sorry.


Injuries abating, history fears not

So, Le Boss hath spoken, decreeing that we have no new injury concerns ahead of this weekend’s massive game against United. In fact, the injury situation doesn’t seem as terrifying as it has been over the past month, as players are beginning to return. As usual with The Arsenal, players are returning in all of the positions that we are currently well stocked in but hey, beggars, choosers, etc.

It might have only been a brief update to the official site, but it was still welcome to get Arsène’s ‘all clear’ on some players. Arteta, for example, will be needed in the base of that midfield if Flamini’s recent performances are anything to go by. The tenacity and cardiness of our Gallic enforcer still seems to be there in his system, but Flamini seems to have lost positional sense and his ability to find another red (or yellow) shirt of late, so the metronomic movements of Tricky Micky will be welcome for our back four.

We may still see a duet of the Flamster and Arteta just in front of the back four, to provide extra cover against the obvious attacking threat United possess, but at least if a scenario like the one that led to the first Swansea goal two weeks ago happens, we know that Mikel is taking down an oncoming player closer to the centre spot.

The other good news is that Giroud will be back, which will certainly please Aaron Ramsey of all people, who thrived from his hold up play last season. It would be remiss of me to suggest that Rambo is not versatile enough to perform without the big Frenchman, but there’s no doubt he profits from Olivier’s place at the top of the field. It will probably be a few weeks before he’s ready to effectively challenge Welbeck for a starting spot, but just seeing him in the squad will be a welcome boost, not least because it will push poor old Sanogo further down the pecking list. I feel for the fella, but he’s not at Arsenal level yet and without games he never will be, so Arsène needs to January loan his ass to another club. Preferably in the Premier League. After all, he only needs to watch Match of the Day to do his scouting. Plus, we’ll save a few pounds on travel expenses if he stays in this country. No need for booking flights for any of Steve Rowley’s crew then, you see.

Anyway, back to the team and thankfully both Kos and Debuchy are out and about running. Arsène still thinks it’s three weeks but the fact that Kos is actually alive is pleasing to hear. We’ve had both Vermaelen and Rosicky in recent past disappear for injuries expected to be a couple of weeks, only to see them gone for an entire season, so I’m sure you’ll join me in breathing a huge sigh of relief there. The sooner we can get the first choice back four together, the better, as far as I’m concerned.

What was interesting about yesterday’s update, I thought, was that there was no mention of Welbeck. Perhaps that’s because there was no need to. After all, Woy said he was fine and if Arsène doesn’t even feel the need to mention it, surely it’s a non-story, right? RIGHT?? I hope so. But the trouble with supporting this club is that usually ‘surprises’ don’t fall into the ‘nice’ category. They usually fall into the ‘dropped your car keys into a poo-encrusted toilet so now you have to since when you dip your hand in there’ category. I’m trying to stay positive. Welbeck will be fit. If I have to avoid three-drained manhole covers all day between now and the game tomorrow evening I will. I’ll do it I tells ya!

So, finally, before I wrap up for the day I thought I’d give you a little ‘heads up’. I am terrified about tomorrow. I’m terrified because at home, against the poorest United side in my living memory, with the injuries they have, we’ve never had a better chance of picking up three points. Yet I’m terrified because we never seem to get the run of the green against that lot. I think back to 99, when we’ve dicked on United and gone down to a wonder goal after Bergkamp missed a penalty, or two when Owen Hargreaves (of all people! He could barely walk for most of his United career) scored that free kick after we’d outplayed them in their own back garden. Or when Almunia and Diaby’s 50p head caused a 2-1 defeat that I witnessed live in the flesh. Or when Sagna went for a meaningless challenge two seasons ago that cost us three points. Or even last season’s 0-0 bore draw. Every time we come up against United we rarely have the beating of them. We’ve had one win in 14 since 2009. I’ve been a season ticket holder for six years and I’ve never seen us beat United (I was away for the Ramsey goal that got us our only win in that time). That’s why I’m terrified. I’m terrified because of history. Because history is rarely kind to The Arsenal. History against United is the person that unscrews the salt pot so you spill all of your salt on your dinner and can’t enjoy it. That history is one in which I am haunted.

I fear another haunting. I fear us totally dominating and losing. Or drawing. Another draw. Don’t let it happen Arsenal. Please.

Anyway, more of my terror tomorrow. Adios for now.

Feeling overly sensitive, worrying about Saturday

Yesterday I had a wee bit of a Twitter monologue as I commented on the Walcott ‘I’m a fan’ story that appeared on the official site yesterday. It wasn’t so much a rant as it was a musing, that the club hasn’t helped him out with the headline which specifically referenced the term ‘fan’ as if he himself had said it.

Before I elaborate, let me just say I have no issue with Walcott, his contract situation a couple of years back, or him as a person. He seems a perfectly amiable chap.

Instead, my thinking was more along the lines in of ‘the club don’t help the players our – PR wise – sometimes, do they?’, because in the subsequent article that I clicked on, not once did Walcott say ‘I’m a fan now’. He did talk about seeing the game differently, trying to remember the buzz fans get when a player does something special, etc, etc. all positive stuff and I have no issue with it. I just think the club could have chosen their article title a bit better.

Because he’s not a fan, is he? Not in the sense that you and I are a fan. Not in the same way, anyway, I don’t think. I don’t think there are many actual ‘fans’ that are professional footballers these days. I just don’t see it. They are not like us. They earn more money, they do it as a job and they see the changing of clubs like we see the changing of companies in our own working careers.

And hey, I don’t begrudge that, because I had had a number of ‘clubs’ in my working life. But much like I would say I hold an affection for each of the ‘clubs’ I’ve worked for, I have not been loyal enough to stay there since I left university.

Which is why I don’t think the use of the term ‘fan’ did Theo any favours, because my immediate response to seeing the headline was to dismiss the sentiment before I’d even read the article, which is wrong because what was said in the article didn’t reflect the title.

Are the official site looking for some extra clicks for advertising? Who knows. Maybe. After all, the Marketing Team might be tasked with bringing in £x,xxx before the end of the year and maybe a few extra clicks will help drive up the advertising revenues. But it’s not something we’re used to seeing on the official site (click whoring, I would call it), so it’s taken me by surprise somewhat.

Or maybe I’m just being a little too sensitive and should just learn to chill, Winston.

Perhaps I’m just a bit more tightly wound than usual because it feels like there’s more riding on this weekend’s game than there would have been a month ago. After all, we’ve played pretty average so far this season, never really getting into our full flowing rhythm and looking like we could end the season with 25 draws on the board come May. But this game on Saturday represents an opportunity. It’s a chance for us to drink in some much needed confidence if we can overcome United, who are still a very good side, one in which we have an appalling record with over the last five or so years.

It feels like a game like this weekend – should we win it – could be a catalyst for us to final break through the malaise that has been the opening third of the season. We need something. Some kind of NOS fuel injection or whatever similar metaphor you can think up in your head. Which is why I’m so tightly wound, because I fear the spiral of the team if we once again succumb to what is fast looking like a United team with more injuries than Ryan Shawcross could count to. Although admittedly that’s just double figures.

We need a win this weekend. And on home soil too, to give the fans a lift, so I’m naturally exceedingly nervous.

Anyway, enough of my own insecurities, because it’s not proving too therapeutic to re-read them on the blog. Just getting me more nervous. Shall we talk about Danny Welbeck? Hopefully he is fully fit, because he’ll be a very important player on Saturday. One suspects that of all the players looking to prove a point, he’d be front and centre when it comes to wanting to get one over on his former employers. Tricky Micky Arteta’s been kicking his heels at the training ground this week, and having very little to do, he thought he’d tell the official site how Welbeck is tailor made for The Arsenal.

Micky tells us that it is the technical element of Welbeck’s game that has surprised him and, whilst I have noticed the effervescent running and ‘chase-em down’ attitude of Welbeck as a positive, the technical ability of the lad must be something that is also important for a player to quickly adapt to life at The Arsenal. After all, the pace in which the game is played, the importance of quick interchange of possession, is all-important in Arsène’s world. So you can see why he’s found it easier to settle in.

He also looks stronger than I remember seeing him beind at United. He holds up the ball better and is better in the air than I thought. The fact he’s only 24, plus that he is still getting to know his teammates, all bodes well from my perspective. Let’s just hope he’s fit for Saturday. Otherwise it’s Sanogo time. We all saw how that worked out against Leicester, so let’s keep those fingers crossed for ‘Welbz’. We’ll find out soon enough, as Arsène is sure to give an update to the dotcom later this afternoon.

Anyway, enough of my jibber-jabber, I’ll leave you in peace. Have a good’un.

Ox in the box and Jack the quarterback

If you go down to the Ems today,
You’re sure for a big surprise,
‘Cos Arsène’s worried and running out of his footballer guys,
They’re injured, battered, bruised and sick,
They can’t play very much so this is it,
If you go down to the Ems you’ll be an Arsenal player!

Little ditty there I thought up about ten minutes after I saw Welbeck hobbling off against Scotland last night, having spent the entire game steaming into challenges and scaring the bejeebus out of this here gooner. Honestly, I thought Jack would be the one that we’d have to close our eyes every time he went near a Scottish player, but it was our rampaging Manc-Gooner (‘Mancgoonian?’) up top that turned out to be the most worrisome for you and I, didn’t it?

Despite what Roy said afterwards about him being fine for the weekend, I think I’ll wait until Arsène has his day tomorrow with the ‘who’s fit?’ webpage on the official site. I fully expect Wenger to tell us all that Welbeck came back in a plastic bag and is currently trying to be reassembled by the Top Gear team using sellotape, string and ‘little bit elbow grease’.

With Giroud not fully fit, Walcott still not being afforded too much game time (we should probably be pleased with the sensible approach being adopted), Alexis only probably touching down from his trip to Mars to play a select Martian XI against Chile, we find ourselves unsurprisingly reliant on young mister Welbeck. So it would be good if Roy is right, but how he can make an effective diagnosis about ten minutes after a game is a little beyond me. If he’s going on what Welbeck has told him…well, we all know where that has got us with players like Jack in the past. Young guys just want to play football. They think about the here and now and not the potential to knock a year or two off the tail end of their career by playing through the pain.

Cross everything, will you? I certainly am.

The plus points of the evening have to be the performance of The Ox, who with more displays like that and a few more goals to his game, will probably run Theo very close when it comes to retaining his place in the side. He was one of the stand out performers yesterday and I’m sure it wouldn’t have escaped your attention that the first England goal was born straight out of London Colney. A wee knock from Welbeck to Wilshere, then a sumptuous diagonal pass from Wilshere to the ‘Ox in the box’, resulting in first blood to The Arsenal. Ahem, I mean, England.

When you watch it again you see just how good that goal is from the pass, to the run, to the flicked header in. Replicate that in the Premier League lads, and you’ll have us all purring, because that’s the sort of movement and vision that we’ve been painfully lacking at times this season.

It does make you think about Jack’s future role at The Arsenal though, doesn’t it? I mean, in the last four England games that I’ve seen, he’s been deployed in this sort of quarterback role for England, and he’s flourished. We all know he can travel with the ball and is good over five to 10 metres – Arsène has said so himself – but what I’ve seen whilst he’s been on international duty is a player who also has a fantastic ability to spot a pass. I don’t want to draw comparisons with a guy who now plays for the oil whores, but it was Fabregas who was the last player in an Arsenal shirt that I saw with the ability to spot a run like Jack did yesterday. The thing is, it wasn’t an isolated incident either, as he has found Rooney time and time again over the last four games. In Estonia he put the ball on a plate for the England captain more times than I can count. It’s just a shame Rooney couldn’t finish his dinner on that night.

I said it on Twitter last night and I’m more than happy to reiterate; surely Arsène now has to look at him as a deep lying midfielder? Surely we should be playing Wilshere and Arteta at the base of our midfield, with an all-action number 10 running the length of the pitch to get forward and back? How about we have Alexis as that guy, with Walcott and The Ox either side of Welbeck? Isn’t that just a little bit sexual as a prospect? I think so.

I will wait with eager anticipation on the starting line up on Saturday. We just need to find out who is actually available to play.

As for other factors in Saturday’s game, it probably hasn’t escaped your attention that Mike Dean will be refereeing our weekend game against the red Mancs. Nothing, and I mean literally nothing, is good about having that guy referee. He is a blister on the game as far as I’m concerned. As much as I’d love the idea of him being the pantomime villain in that ‘celebration’ that he made when the Spuds scored against us at The Emirates a couple of seasons ago, in my heart of hearts I know that it’s probably unlikely he was actually celebrating. That doesn’t stop him giving United absolutely everything on Saturday, to which I’ll probably cry foul come the end of the game, but for now I just have to contend with a disliking for a guy who probably isn’t a complete hater of Arsenal. Hopefully he can prove us all wrong by giving us 55-60% of decisions as the home team. That’s what you normally accept as a fan, whether your team is at home, or away.

Anyway, enough conspiracy theories for one day, let’s just sit quietly and wait patiently for Arsène to give us the good news. He’s holding open trials for spots in the team on Friday and everyone’s welcome.